Rotherham Titans, who now lead London Welsh by three points at the top of the Championship, know full well they can expect a fierce backlash from the Oxford-based club at the Kassam Stadium next Sunday.
Rotherham won their 10th successive game in all competitions as they overcame Moseley 16-6 at Clifton Lane.
As Rotherham were winning narrowly in a close contest at home, their 11th win in 14 Championship matches, Welsh suffered a shock defeat at Plymouth in one of the major upsets of the campaign.
So on Sunday, Rotherham’s opponents will be striving relentlessly to put their promotion campaign back in shape and the Titans, too, will be keen not to repeat the mistakes that were uncharacteristic at Clifton Lane.
The strong wind did not help fluent rugby, but Moseley adapted far better than Rotherham whose lost line outs, knock-ons and inaccurate passing meant they struggled to win.
Nevertheless, the Titans persisted, the team spirit shone and they took most of the scoring opportunities against opponents who are much improved than in the two earlier league games in September when they lost by 18 points and 26 points.
Centre Jack Roberts scored a thrilling try after only two minutes, but after that excellent opening, Rotherham were never able to reproduce the style that has destroyed teams.
Moseley’s forwards won plenty of ball, so Rotherham’s defence had to be at its most effective, so much so that it did not concede a try.
The Birmingham club were unlucky not to earn a losing bonus point and would have done so probably had not replacement fly half Ollie Thomas missed a kickable penalty late in the second half. If his kick had gone over, Rotherham’s lead would have been slashed to four points. The Titans’ goal kicker, though, Juan Pablo Socino was, vitally, more successful when it mattered.
His second half penalties on 72 minutes and then in the seventh minute of injury time eased the tension and confirmed a narrow win and four invaluable league points.
The Argentinean centre, who kicked 11 points, has now gone past 200 in the Championship, and is comfortably the competition’s top scorer.
The squad for next week should be strengthened by the return from injury of forwards Dan Sanderson and Alfie To’oala and winger Jamie Broadley may also come back.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Roberts, Socino, Murphy, Mulchrone, Hislop, Cruse, Tampin, Maddison, Thomas, Birch, Preece, Williamson. Replacements: Sowrey, Williams, Quigley, Thomas-Brown, Rieder, White, Hayes.
Try: Roberts; conversion: Socino ; penalties: Socino 3.
Referee: Dean Richards.